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Next for stimulus bill: House, Senate hammer out a compromise

The Senate Tuesday passed its own version of the economic stimulus bill totaling $827 billion. You might think that the House version at $820 billion would be similar to the Senate version. You would be wrong.

Take, for instance, the mass transit and passenger rail portions of the bill. This analysis is from Natonal Corridors Initiative Inc. (Hat tip to Cheryl and DaveW.)

House_Senate Version Stimulus bill
As National Corridor reports: "The bills are quite different: the Senate bill provides a lot of money for high-speed rail, whereas the House bill provides nothing at all. Meanwhile, while the House bill provides $4.5 billion for fixed guideway modernizaion and new starts funds, the Senate bill provides nothing for those programs, rather placing $5.5 billion in a discretionary fund that the Secretary of the Department of Transportation will have control over; money in that pot can theoretically be transferred to both transit and highway projects."

The House-Senate conference committee now gets to work to negotiate something both bodies can agree on.

Meanwhile, under heavy pressure from the media, Mayor Daley gave sketchy "details" Monday of the city's shovel-ready projects for the stimulus plan. Those projects include "repair or reconstruct 15 miles of public transit lines."

Comments

I like aspects of each of those plans in the House and Senate. Hopefully they don't take the low-end on both.

Also, some of Da Mare's requests are a bit odd...

"Expand broadband access to over 22,000 homes, including 10,000 Chicago Housing Authority units"

Isn't this something Comcast, AT&T and RCN should do? Plus, how is it possible ANYONE in the city can't get at least DSL, which by FCC standards is considered broadband.

"Retrofit more than 200 miles of city street lights"

Retrofit lights? This one also puzzles me considering how many miles of streets we are talking about.

Also, related to Mike Doyle's story over at Huffington Post, nobody seems to be doing any work over at CTA HQ. No press releases or anything. The slow zone maps have gone un-updated for almost 3 weeks.

http://www.transitchicago.com/news_initiatives/slowzonemaps.aspx

It seems like deciding which stimulus bill is better for passenger rail depends a lot on what the "discretionary grants" in the Senate bill means. If it really has no mandate as to where it goes, we can assume that the highway lobby will get it all. If it could be limited to mass transit/passenger rail, it would make the Senate bill better.

As to Daley's list it seems astonishingly unambitious. 15 miles of rail work??? That's around half of the Red Line alone. A drop in the bucket. Do we really need that many street light repairs? Maybe, but there's no evidence of that. So far, the whole thing is like something somebody scribbled on a cocktail napkin just before closing time. This list is not going to stimulate anybody into loosening the purse strings.

I think Daley just submitted that list to get people off his back for not presenting detailed plans as did other municipalities. I'll bet he's planning on funnelling a lot of the stimulus money to projects that will support the Olympics. When this is finally announced and whatever newspapers are left at the time call him on it, he'll say that the newspapers are unfair to him.

"15 miles of rail work??? That's around half of the Red Line alone."

Sure, but the entire red line doesn't need work (as I recall, they rehabbed the Dan Ryan branch a few years ago). The part of the rail system that most needs work, IMHO, is everything north of Clark Junction (except the Skokie Swift). From Clark Junction to Howard is 7.5 miles, then another 3.9 miles to the Purple Line terminal in Wilmette (with the rest spend on Loop subway renovations). I can only hope that this is what Daley was referring to. Something tells me that if he gets that money, he'll spend it all on those loop subway renovations.

The Red Line north of Clark Jct. would make sense.

As far as the difference between House and Senate versions, eliminating "New Starts" makes sense, as those do not appear to be "shovel ready." With interminable screens, the only thing New Starts could stimulate is the consultant industry, not real construction, at least in the next two years, if the progress of the Chicago ones (Circle Line, Red Line ext., Orange Line ext., Yellow Line ext.) is typical for the program as a whole.

The question about the additions to Federal Formula Funds is whether they will buy the unknown quantity of buses (between 58 and 958) that CTA apparently wants, as well as take care of the track work.

And for Mayor Daley, his "we don't want it for O'Hare," "we do want it for O'Hare" statements indicate why he didn't want to release the city's "wish list" "because the press would criticize it."

As an obsessive checker of slowzone maps, I assure you that this is not the longest we've gone without an update. (When they do post it, it will likely be back-dated in order to preserve the illusion of an orderly procession.)

(I'm wondering if the southbound slowzone between Irving Park and Addison on the Brown Line is coming back.)

I believe many new starts would be shovel ready. Maybe not in Chicago, but elsewhere...

Looks like the bill might be getting smaller:

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Dems-Tentative-settlement-on-apf-14324154.html

Oh good grief, do you people really expect any track work to have been done in/over the past three weeks with the cold and snow we've had?

because its just so cold outside today... gosh i dont even know if ill be able to get outside without being buried in snow...

^ Sure do fg. I was expected to be at work AND get things done no matter how cold or how snowy it has been over the last month. Sorry Charlie, but that's how it works.

If they weren't doing track work at Sheridan, then why were they making passengers board on certain sides of the tracks for the last 3 weeks. Get a clue fg.

Not to pile on, but fg could have seen track work with his/her own eyes by riding the Red Line between Addison and Sheridan during middday over the last three weeks.

I'm sure there's been work on other parts of the system as well. For example, I recall alerts being issued for single-track operations at Grand Red Line. I'm not an expert, but I would assume that, at worst, snow is a minor obstacle in the subway.

I'm not a loser without a day job like most of the posters here apparently, riding the train at mid-day. But being in construction, I know you can't work on metal safely in extreme cold and the bulk of construction work stops in the snow, that IS how it works charlie. If they were doing work it was emergency work, not routine work - most likely lubricating switches to keep them working, not track work.

[I'm not a loser without a day job like most of the posters here apparently, riding the train at mid-day.]

Maybe so, but of course that just goes to show that you don't know what you're talking about in this case.

As for stopping work in the snow - excepting a shower here and there, there hasn't been any fresh snow for several weeks. And you've perhaps noticed that snow accumulation is minimal on the North Side L tracks south of Wilson, for the very simple reason that there's nothing beneath the rail ties for it to accumulate on.

In other words: little snowfall + minimal accumulation = snow not an obstacle.

I don't understand how Daley can identify shovel-ready projects; the Olympics won't be here for another 6-7 years.

Have the C.T.A. buy high resolution security cameras.The grainy video of the Western Avenue suspect was pretty much useless in identifying him.

@ fg

Wow you sound like an asshole. But in the interest of serving you your own dish I would point out that those of us with white-collar jobs have computers at work and have the freedom to post throughout the day.

Basically, work has gone on for slow zones near Sheridan. They weren't lubricating switches every day for 5 hours for a week.

Especially since the only need for switches in that area is to reroute trains in order to do track work.

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